Outdoor Educators Institute

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The Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) advances racial equity in the outdoors through a free-of-cost training program for 18-26 year old Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who are early in their outdoor education career. Participants receive various training focused on outdoor education skills, culturally relevant facilitation, and opportunities in the outdoor industry. Training sessions are facilitated by local partners and partner organizations who are actively shifting the outdoor education field toward racial justice and equity. 


The Outdoor Educators Institute develops the next generation of culturally relevant outdoor leaders by building competencies and leadership skills in 18 to 26-year-old adults who have encountered hurdles or lacked the resources to work in the outdoors. The Outdoor Educators Institute is, at its core, advocacy for the inclusion and centering of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, especially those that have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors.

For participants, it provides a clear path to a profession through representation and culturally relevant trainings. Through training passionate young adults, we begin shifting the narrative of the outdoors from one traditionally held solely by people with power and privilege to that of one that includes and embraces people from all walks of life, and reflects the realities of the youth that will become future champions of the earth.

For the field, OEI establishes the method by which the next generation of racially and socioeconomically diverse outdoor educators are prepared for service, creating the opportunity for youth to see and identify with people in outdoor education programs who look like them and come from similar backgrounds.

The OEI Program

OEI is one of our flagship yearly programs, through which we support 18 to 26-year-old adults interested in pursuing a career in outdoor education, facilitation, and leadership through an immersive training program through once-a-week evening meetings and weekend sessions over a three-month period. OEI cohorts meet with partner organizations for weekend programming, and have the support of program staff who have all been through the OEI program themselves.

OEI trainees will learn and practice a variety of outdoor skills necessary to becoming a culturally relevant outdoor leader. OEI connects participants to opportunities for outdoor employment, internships, and volunteering, as well as supports participants in building outdoor programming for their communities (i.e. friends, family, school groups and clubs, community orgs, etc.). Whether a participant is looking to enter the outdoor industry as an individual, or to develop their capacity to bring their own communities into the outdoors, OEI is a space for them to share, grow, and authentically connect with like minded others.

Beyond OEI

Outdoor Program Creation & Support: Participants and their community partner agencies will be given access to resources to create, implement, and strengthen outdoor programming. Resources include mentorship from industry professionals, discounted and free activities from delivery partners, and information and opportunities to apply for outdoor program funding.

Access to Outdoor Expedition Partners: Participants will be better situated to connect their communities to the outdoors by utilizing industry leaders and best practices through networking and relationship-building with local and national outdoor programs.

Internships, Volunteer Opportunities, and Employment: Accepted participants will be connected to local and national outdoor nonprofits and encouraged to continue to grow professionally, by participating as a volunteer, intern, or employee for an outdoor organization.

Access to continued programs at Justice Outside, including our OEI: Pathfinders program. OEI: Pathfinders is designed to help participants develop their outdoor programs and projects.

Questions? Contact our Program Associate Dylan Kiyo Kennedy (they/them) dylan@justiceoutside.org.